In the months before December, many Nigerians had looked forward to their friends, families and loved ones living abroad to return home for the holidays, as many could not do so last year due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
However, with the recent discovery of the new Omicron variant, many are rethinking their travels and resorting to sending money home to their families rather than making the tedious journey of travelling under strict restrictions and quarantine.
This trend is expected to boost the inflow of foreign currency into the country particularly as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had earlier this year introduced the Naira4Dollar policy which is aimed at increasing remittance into the country.
From March 8 2021 when the policy kicked off all recipients of diaspora remittances through CBN, licensed International Money Transfer operators are being paid N5 for every dollar that they receive as remittance inflow.
Consequently, the policy has seen the country’s remittance inflow improve significantly as the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele recently stated that “remittance inflows have been supported by our naira for dollar program, and we have seen a surge in remittance inflows from over $5 million per week in June 2020 to over $100 million per week in October 2021.”
With the current trend of inflow, Nigeria’s diaspora remittances could be nearing $5 billion per annum a quantum leap from $1.1 billion received in 2020.
Emefiele, had noted that the incentive measure will encourage banks and financial institutions to develop products and investments vehicles, geared towards attracting investments from Nigerians in the diaspora.
Similarly, the managing director of First Bank Nigeria Limited, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan said: “at FirstBank, we are pleased to participate in the CBN’s ‘Naira 4 Dollar scheme’ as it will contribute to deepening financial inclusion in Nigeria. Indeed, its an activity we are pleased to lead, whilst promoting access to funds across the nooks and crannies of the country in almost 127 years of our existence.
“We are delighted to be a gateway to promoting dollar remittances into the country and we encourage our customers, their loved ones and friends to use our international money transfer services which would enable them to enjoy the rewards of this promo, sustaining the increase in inflows of diaspora remittances into Nigeria consequently help in poverty reduction, income redistribution and enhancement of economic growth.”
Reiterating the bank’s resolve in promoting diaspora remittances, regardless of where one is across the globe, the deputy managing director, Mr Gbenga Shobo said: “at FirstBank, expanding our network of International Money Transfer Operators is in recognition of the significant roles diaspora remittances play in driving economic growth such as helping recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses and debt servicing.
We are excited about these partnerships, as it is essential to ensure our customers are at an advantage to receive money from their loved ones and business associates, anywhere they are, across the world.”
FirstBank had earlier pioneered international funds transfer and remittances over 25 years ago and has been at the forefront of promoting cross border payments in the country, having started the journey with Western Union Money Transfer. The bank’s wealth of experience and operation in over 750 locations nationwide gives it the edge in the market.
To further encourage remittance through official channels, Adeduntan noted that, when transfer is sent to a beneficiary’s naira account, the bank automatically opens a dollar account for the beneficiary and credit the dollar into the account. “We pay N5 for every Dollar received in line with the CBN directive and of course, our customers are at liberty to determine whether they want their USD as cash or directly into their accounts.”